Grow Deep: It's Not What You Think Edition, Week 1
Week 1: January 7-13
On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary,
and they bowed down and worshipped Him. - Matthew 2:11
Recently I had a volunteer project to complete which required creative and insightful thinking. We had out of town family with us, and I felt pressured by time and the responsibility that I had accepted. I just could not seem to do what needed to be done …. false start after false start …. I was getting nowhere. Out of sheer frustration, I gave up and began to read a new book. There it was, right in front of me: “Are you trying to do something you can’t do apart from God?” I stopped, I pondered those words. Was I? I had been in regular prayer about this project. But then again … I was distracted and stressed. I was doing what I thought needed to be done. I felt overwhelmed and just wanted to get the project finished!
This week our reflections begin with the story of men … learned men … the Magi … who, apart from God, would not, could not find Jesus. Their story is NOT one of the three “wise guys” (as I have heard them called) who would find Jesus by sheer willpower, human wisdom, or their own raw determination. It is a story of God’s awesome grace. It is a story of God, who comes to pagan believers in a way that would get their attention …. with the light of a star! God is the initiator. He is the One who invites them to come see Jesus. While God’s own chosen people missed their newborn King when He was right in their midst, these Magi responded to God’s invitation to see Him with joy. They journeyed from afar to find Jesus, and when they did, they bowed down in worship! After they gave Jesus their gifts, the Magi returned home as men whose lives had been changed by an encounter with the truth of Jesus!
God is inviting you to seek Him. As you read and reflect this week, let His Word change you. Let His Word lead you to Jesus, In faith, let His Word lead you to respond as the Magi did with heartfelt worship.
Sunday, January 7
Read: Matthew 2:1-12
This favorite story is one of great significance to Gentile believers. While Scripture doesn’t give us a lot of factual information about the Magi, we know they responded to God and went to look for Jesus. The men in this Biblical account were probably well-educated philosophers and astronomers, and they were probably wealthy. We also know for sure that they were not Jewish and that they were invited by God to come and see Jesus! And when they found Him, they bowed down and worshipped Him.
Reflect: Why is it important to remember that God is the One who initiates faith? Is there any significance to the fact that He led the Magi to Jesus with a star? What was their response when they encountered Jesus? What can we learn from them?
For the Family: What sign did the Magi see? Who put it there? Why? What did the Magi do when they found Jesus? What should we do to show Jesus we love Him?
Monday, January 8
Read: Isaiah 60:1-3
In this poetic section of Scripture, the prophet is letting God’s people know that the Light (symbolic of the presence of God) is coming to deliver His people. God’s presence is the Light that shines with the promise of future blessings for them. When His Light shines on Israel, the Gentile nations will also be drawn to it.
Reflect: What does it mean that darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness covers the people? In these verses, how are we to respond to the Light? How can we apply that to our lives today?
For the Family: What does it mean to “arise and shine?” Why does the Prophet Isaiah tell us to do that?
Tuesday, January 9
Read: 1 Peter 2:4-10
In this beautiful description of God’s people, God affirms that we are His, that He has reached out to us and adopted us into His family, and that He has made us His own possession. He is the One who has called us out of darkness into His glorious light.
Reflect: How does it make you feel to know that you were chosen by God? What should your response be? How can you declare the praise of God in your daily life?
For the Family: Have you ever been “chosen” for a special job? How did you feel about that? God has chosen you to be His own child. Hold hands together with your family and share a prayer of thanks that He has made you His own.
Wednesday, January 10
Read: Ephesians 1:1-14
What a beautiful outline of praise for what God has done for us through Jesus. Paul affirms that we have been chosen and adopted into God’s family for His pleasure and will by the gift of grace. We have redemption through the blood of Christ, and we have forgiveness of sins. He has made known the mystery of His will and has marked and sealed us with the Holy Spirit.
Reflect: Make a list of all the gifts of God through Christ listed in this passage. How are these gifts evidence of God’s ongoing work in your life?
For the Family: What things do we mark or seal in our houses? What does it mean for us to be marked and sealed with the Holy Spirit?
Thursday, January 11
Read: John 1:1-13
In this section of Scripture, the Apostle John describes Jesus as the Word who is and was God, Creator, and the Light that overcomes the darkness. He further affirms that John the Baptist was sent as a witness to the Light so that all might believe. Some reject Jesus as the true Light; others believe and become children of God.
Reflect: How do you become a child of God? What does it mean to be born of God? Reflect on verses 12 and 13. What qualities do you find in “receiving” and “believing” in Jesus?
For the Family: This passage says that you are a child of God if you believe in Jesus. If you believe in Jesus, who is your Father? How is He different from earthly mothers and fathers?
Friday, January 12
Read: Ephesians 3:1-12
Several times throughout these verses, the Apostle Paul makes reference to a mystery that has been made known to him. The mystery is one that has not been understood before. Because of the boundless riches of God’s mercy through Christ, God has called the Gentiles into a relationship with Him and has given them an inheritance in His grace through faith in Christ. That is the mystery.
Reflect: What does it mean to be “fellow heirs … and partakers of His promise in Christ?” Verse 10 says that God uses the church to “make known” His manifold wisdom to those in the “heavenly places.” How does it make you feel to be God’s masterpiece?
For the Family: What does the word mystery mean? What is the Apostle Paul referring to when he writes about a mystery in these verses?
Saturday, January 13
Read: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
In these verses, Paul offers an explanation of the “who” God chooses for salvation. Those who believe in the message of the Gospel and are sanctified by the Spirit are the ones whom God “chooses” for salvation. In response, we are to “stand firm and hold fast” to the truth of God’s Word.
Reflect: The Thessalonians were facing trials and persecution because of their faith. What is the encouragement that Paul gives them in verse 15? How does his encouragement apply to us today?
For the Family: Verses 16 and 17 are a prayer. What is Paul asking God to do in this prayer? Why should we pray this prayer for ourselves?